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Help on the way to administer COVID-19 vaccines in South Carolina

A new order allows healthcare providers to train medical school students and retired nurses to give the shots.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — More medical professionals can now help with administering COVID-19 vaccines thanks to a new order by DHEC. 

The agency has expanded who qualifies to give the shots and says this will help speed up the roll out plan. 

To get more people vaccinated for COVID-19, Lara Hewitt with the South Carolina Hospital Association said many healthcare providers need additional help to administer shots.

"When the vaccine administration began, we immediately had to start figuring out who else can we get to administer the vaccines just in order for us to make it happen. We needed a lot more people," Hewitt said.

That’s why DHEC and the Department of Labor have filed a joint order that expands who can administer vaccines.

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"It will make the process a little bit more efficient," said Hewitt. "It’s gonna enable them to pull from different pockets of their employees or health professionals in their community to be able to assist w the vaccination process."

According to the order, healthcare providers will now be able to call on certified medical assistants, retired or inactive nurses and medical school students to help give shots.

"They will be trained on how to do intermuscular injections, which many of them, based on what their current profession is, may have already gotten some of that training," Hewitt said. 

She added that the newly qualified medical professionals will be supervised while giving shots, too.

DHEC’s Acting Director, Marshall Taylor, wrote in a statement that, “this joint order proactively puts us in a position to have an increased number of people who can administer vaccine when the vaccine is more widely available to everyone.”

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Hewitt said healthcare providers across the state will be looking to hire additional help now that this order has passed.

"Almost every single hospital in the state and other provider groups as well, including DHEC, are all gonna be looking for health professionals either to hire on a temporary basis or in many cases they’ll be looking for volunteers," she said.

She recommends people that are now qualified to go to hospitals' websites to see what open positions they've posted.